Giancarlo Gonzalez on his way to Palermo ahead of potential $5 million deal

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After less than a year in Columbus, Costa Rican international Giancarlo Gonzalez appears to be moving to different pastures, with the exposure he gained during Los Ticos’ run to the World Cup’s quarterfinals landing him a new home in Italy’s Serie A. Ahead of what league sources told the Columbus Dispatch is a $5 million deal, the 26-year-old central defender is on his way to Sicily for a physical, one that could end with a return to European soccer.

Gonzalez arrived in Columbus this winter after two seasons in Norway with Vålerenga. Before that, the 40-time international spent four years with Alajuelense, having come up through Costa Rican club’s youth system.

Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter spoke about the potential deal today, saying Palermo’s offer was “very difficult to refuse.”

[tweet https://twitter.com/columbuscrew/status/503294287086620673]

“We’re creating a soccer environment that can improve the value of players.” Berhalter said in comments posted by the Crew’s “Insider.” “We were able to work with a foreign club to put Giancarlo in a situation that not many people get the chance to do, play in Serie A.”

According to Berhalter, the final deal is expected to be announced on Monday or Tuesday, provided Gonzalez passes his physical. While the funds will be available to spend immediately should Gonzalez be sold (after Vålerenga and MLS get their share), the club won’t necessarily pay for an immediately replacement.

“The allocation money that we get gives us the ability to work with a bigger pool of money,” Berhalter said, saying the sale will allow the team to “get to where we want to go faster.”

It’d be a big loss for the Crew, albeit one it appears the club is prepared to suffer. If Berhalter and the team’s goal is to groom players for more sales like these (or, to bargain buy in the offseason with the hope of flipping those talents), this will be a frequent occurrence.

Berhalter’s job is to meld that business into a plan that also finds success on the field, and thus far, the new boss has crafted a better product. But if the team’s playoff push is undermined by the Gonzalez sale, the price Columbus got for one of its better players will be seen in a different light. “At least we got that money” will become an empty refrain if the Crew end up missing the postseason.

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

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Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.